Corresponding Author

Petah Atkinson. Email: Petah.Atkinson@monash.edu


Introduction: Racism has a profound impact on health inequities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Australian medical schools are required to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health curriculum in their medical courses and policies have been developed to support this work.

Methods: The research question was: how is racism framed in medical education policies guiding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health curriculum for entry-level medical courses? Applying an Indigenous Research Paradigm and Intersectionality Based Policy Analysis, three key policies were analysed: Australian Medical Council (AMC) Standards for Assessment and Accreditation of Primary Medical programs; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Curriculum Framework (ATSIHCF); Committee of Deans of Australasian Medical Schools Indigenous Health Curriculum Framework (CDAMS).

Results: The AMC standards did not refer to racism, while CDAMS and ATSICF supported the notion that teaching students about racism would lead to reduced racism or increased anti-racism in healthcare practice. However, both policies’ learning objectives lacked inclusion of critical reflection required to inform responsive action to racism. As the CDAMS and ATSIHCF were not mandated, there is little accountability for medical schools to implement either of the curriculum policies.

Conclusion: Realising the goal of medical practitioners who understand racism and practice anti-racism requires a multi-layered approach. This involves evidence-based teaching about racism and anti-racism, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership in curriculum development, inclusion of racism and anti-racism in medical school accreditation standards, and development of student critical reflection skills. Importantly, education and health institutions need to value and model anti-racism.